Chinese automakers now rely on “imported” designers to fashion their image image

You know that China is the world’s largest auto market – hitting record figures each year. But the country can still be counted among emerging markets – mainly because of their slowly developing domestic producers.

Although local Chinese carmakers have become a force to be reckoned with – just look at the Dongfeng – PSA Peugeot Citroen deal – and many industry observers threaten they’re getting ready to conquer all the overseas markets, just a few years ago the brands that dared to be present at auto shows across the globe were the laughing stock of the industry.

And that was in big part because of styling: the homegrown producers struggled with young designers that sometimes lacked a driver’s license, only knew how to copy western designs or (if they had the financial power) relied on overseas design studios. So, the looks ranged from clear copycats to models that had nothing to do with the other cars of the brand.

Now, the rising Chinese brands have taken a different approach: they simply hire experienced foreign talent to mentor and oversee the development of their car programs. They’re essentially importing tutors for the next generation of Chinese car designers. Chery Automobile hired James Hope as its design chief almost three years ago and rival Zhejiang Geely Holding Group tapped styling veteran Peter Horbury as its global design team leader or Guy Burgoyne from General Motors to chief the company’s Shanghai studio.

Via Automotive News Europe